2012 Attendance: 75,601 (19th)
Named after former Florida State president Doak S. Campbell, The Doak is known for its vicious football teams and gorgeous student section. It was renamed in 2004 as Bobby Bowden Field, and a nine-foot statue and three-story stained-glass window of the legendary coach were added to the facilities. The Noles are 260-86-4 all-time in the largest stadium in the ACC and, interestingly enough, the gorgeous brick façade makes DCS the largest continuous brick building in the United States. The cowgirls go crazy when Chief Osceola rides in on his steed and plants his flaming spear into the 50-yard line before each home game.
2012 Attendance: 57,066 (30th)
Can Ole Miss figure out a way to move The Grove inside Vaught-Hemingway? The world’s greatest pre-game tailgate takes place just a few yards away from the comparably small, but no less enjoyable, stadium. So while the third-oldest venue in the SEC hasn’t been all that daunting to opposing teams over the years, it does house what may be the most beautiful fan base in the nation. Everyone should attend at least one tailgate in Oxford, Miss.
2012 Attendance: 80,001 (18th)
Recent upgrades to the tailgating areas and stadium itself have elevated Williams-Brice into the upper echelon of SEC venues. “The Cock Pit” has signature lighting high above the upper deck on either side of the field as the school continues to break attendance records — 85,199 in 2012 against Georgia. Each home game begins with the playing of the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey," giving South Carolina one of the best pre-game reputations in the nation. Formerly known as Carolina Stadium, the stadium saw its name changed in 1972 to Williams-Brice after university benefactor Martha Williams-Brice. Steve Spurrier has built WBS into one of the impossible places for visitors to win, posting a 25-3 mark at home over the last four seasons.
2012 Attendance: 87,945 (9th)
The biggest venue in the Pac-12 is home to the Men of Troy. The massive, intimidating Coliseum has all the quirks and character of the best venues in the nation, which is why this building has hosted the Summer Olympics, the Super Bowl and the World Series. And when the Trojans are rolling, it is an impossible place for the visiting team to win in. That said, USC doesn’t feature one of the louder 90,000-seat atmospheres in the nation, and, in certain sections, the sheer size of the building can distance the fans from the action. Otherwise, the weather is amazing and the scenery (in all senses of the word) gorgeous.
2012 Attendance: 65,632 (25th)
The only building in the ACC that can give Death Valley a run for its money is in Blacksburg, Va. Named after former Tech graduate and Board of Visitors member Edward H. Lane, the beautiful venue is the largest stadium in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Frank Beamer and his Hokies are 51-8 at home during his career and haven’t lost more than one game at home during any season since joining the ACC in 2004. Before moving to the ACC, Tech went 32-9 in Lane Stadium while a member of the Big East. The Highty Tighties, Marching Virginians and “Enter Sandman” get the crowd riled up before every home game as players rush out from the tunnel slapping a slab of Hokie Stone en route to the field. Aside from the boisterous crowd (and excellent football team), part of what makes this venue so intimidating is its altitude of 2,057 feet above sea level — making it the highest stadium in the Eastern United States.
2012 Attendance: 68,481 (22nd)
There may not be more hallowed ground in college football than the Rose Bowl. Historically, some of sports' greatest moments have happened within these walls — five Super Bowls, multiple World Cup matches, BCS national title games and, of course, the Granddaddy of Them All. So Bruins home games, at times, fail to live up to the epic reputation of the venue — there were roughly 20,000 empty seats per game last year for a team that won the Pac-12 South championship. The building also deserves to get knocked for being 30 minutes from campus. That said, visiting the Arroyo Seco Park Area for a game, with mountains on the horizon and the Brookside Golf Course next door, is a one-of-a-kind experience. A $164.5 million renovation is underway that should be completed by the end of the 2013 calendar year and should only add to the experience on Saturdays.
2012 Attendance: 58,617 (27th)
Technically, the rebuild is a renovation, but it might as well be considered a new stadium. With a breathtaking view of Lake Washington, new Husky Stadium will be one of the finest facilities in the nation when it opens this fall. The $250 million “facelift” will actually drop the capacity ever so slightly, but the building will keep its trademark cantilever roofs that trap sound and make the venue one of the Pac-12’s loudest. Here is a great compilation of photos from King5.com. Seattle has excellent fan support for its football teams (including its MLS Sounders), and no doubt U of W faithful will flock to this luxurious and picturesque football cathedral.
* - estimated
2012 Attendance: 85,243 (13th)
Easily the No. 2 spot to catch a game in the Big 12, Norman’s college football palace provides the loudest and most passionate fan base in the league. The 103.8-percent capacity and single-game record against Notre Dame (86,031) a year ago prove that. A recent round of renovations has added 8,000 seats, a massive new brick-lined video board, new luxury suites, a new press box and beautiful brick exterior. Large gaps in the end zone seating keep the capacity well below that of a certain arch-rival in Austin and likely limit the decibel levels as well.
2012 Attendance: 100,884 (4th)
Everything is actually bigger in Texas, and the Longhorns' stadium tops the Big 12 based on sheer size alone. They aren't the loudest 100,000 fans in the nation, but the building is arguably the most imposing facility as it dwarfs most every other stadium in the Big 12. After the most recent run of extensive exterior construction, the amenities are second to none in the league as well. Plans are also in the works to expand the south end zone, pushing DKR’s capacity to upwards of 112,000 fans — which would make it the nation’s largest stadium. And finally, located in the heart of one of the world’s best cities, fans have a long list of attractions while pre- and post-gaming on Saturdays.
2012 Attendance: 82,646 (14th)
The Tigers' football stadium is named after Shug Jordan, the winningest coach in school history, and Cliff Hare, a member of Auburn’s first-ever football team and former president of the Southern Conference. Beautiful and historic murals on the east-side exterior as well as freshly planted “War Eagle” flowers in the end zone give this venue plenty of character. And when “Nova” (War Eagle VII), the team’s live golden eagle mascot, flies into the friendly confines, the Auburn faithful explode into a pre-game frenzy. It takes a special fan base and venue to attract over 82,000 fans to watch a team that didn't win a single SEC game a year ago.
2012 Attendance: 68,046 (23rd)
One of the most underrated home atmospheres lies just a few miles north of the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas. After massive renovations in 2001, “DWRRS” grew to accommodate some of the most dedicated fans in the nation. The nation’s second-largest video board (167 feet wide) was added just last year to the North end zone, and additional planned renovations will push this stadium to 80,000 seats in the very near future. Arkansas’ all-time record at their home stadium is a solid but uninspiring 166-81-2. The trademark “Woo Pig Sooie” chant can be heard echoing across campus during each home game in the fall.
2012 Attendance: 112,252 (1st)
The biggest stadium in the nation is located in Ann Arbor, Mich. Capable of holding upwards of 80,000 people at the time it opened, The Big House was well ahead of its time in terms of sheer size and capacity. Built down into the ground, the massive bowl doesn’t tower over the land or hold in the sound like some of its 100,000-seat brethren. However, the renovations completed in 2010 installed new luxury boxes, added a massive video scoreboard and thousands of club seats. These changes have contained the noise to some degree and made The Big House more inhospitable to opposing teams.
2012 Attendance: 80,006 (17th)
Madison is routinely considered one of the nation’s most enjoyable college towns. Nestled between two gorgeous lakes, the downtown campus “jumps around” on fall Saturdays. The brat haze that floats over State Street and down Regent Street ushers fans through a gorgeous campus and into the House that Barry built. Camp Randall got its name from its time as a Civil War army base in the 1800s long before Big Ten athletics were created. Wisconsin has consistently poured money into renovating its prized gem of a stadium over the years, with some finishing touches still yet to come. One of the nation’s best game day atmospheres is only getting better with time.
2012 Attendance: 57,490 (28th)
There is a long list of players who have claimed they’ve never heard a louder atmosphere than the Ducks' home building. Tales of the tunnel shaking in the pre-game ceremonies only add to the already amazing Saturday experience despite a smaller capacity. Smooth design lines, a beautiful setting, a signature two-tone green field turf and loads of backing from Nike money make Oregon’s home stadium one of the nation’s top venues. In the friendly confines of Thomas J. Autzen Stadium, the Ducks were 26-2 under Chip Kelly in his four seasons.
2012 Attendance: 80,795 (16th)
As one of the most historic locations to watch a game, South Bend is home to not only Notre Dame Stadium but also Touchdown Jesus, the Grotto of Our Lady Lourdes, the College Football Hall of Fame and 80,000 screaming Irish faithful. The tailgating isn't all that picturesque as the stadium is mostly surrounded by ordinary parking lots, but it more than makes up for it with passion and attitude. The roaming bagpipes walking through the crowds before games also add to experience. A potential seven-figure expansion is on the horizon that will update the facade, build a towering new student center, add luxury boxes and club seats.
2012 Attendance: 87,587 (10th)
Dubbed "The Swamp" by Steve Spurrier in the early 1990s, no stadium in the nation has a better nickname. And when the Gators are rolling, few places in the nation are as intimidating as a hot and humid Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Unique sightlines and design subtleties give BHGS plenty of character and gives the team a huge home-field advantage. From 1990 to 2009, the Gators had the best home field record in the nation at 113-13. When it comes to noise and success, The Swamp is among the game’s preeminent locations to watch a game.
2012 Attendance: 101,722 (3rd)
Legendary head coach Bear Bryant and former university president George Denny lent their names to one of college football’s most intimidating home venues. Alabama is 224-52-3 since opening the building in 1929, and Nick Saban is 29-6 at home during his tenure. In front of the most dedicated fans in the nation, the Crimson Tide routinely bring opponents to their knees with ear-shattering support and one appropriately named visitor’s locker room (“The Fail Room” after donor James Fail). A round of various multimillion dollar expansions completed in 2010 have made this football palace the second-largest stadium in the SEC and one of the most luxurious places to watch a game.
2012 Attendance: 85,517 (12th)
Towering over the sprawling Lincoln campus, Memorial Stadium rises high into the horizon for all Big Red faithful to see. The façade of Memorial Stadium is extremely intimidating to those down on the field, and the crowds are the most committed in the nation. This venue has been sold out since 1962. With another round of multimillion dollar expansions coming, this college football cathedral is expected to get even bigger (91,000) and even more luxurious. And from a technology standpoint, few programs in the nation can boast the level of advancement of the Cornhuskers football program.
2012 Attendance: 81,427 (15th nationally)
There are only two atmospheres in the ACC that compare to the SEC's on Saturdays and Clemson Memorial Stadium is the best. Dubbed “Death Valley” by the late Presbyterian coach Lonnie McMillan after watching his teams get thumped by the Tigers for years, CMS has been home to historic moments and raucous crowds for more than 70 years. The fifth-oldest venue in the ACC, this college football cathedral witnessed the first meeting between father and son head coaches (Bowden Bowl I) and is filled with timeless traditions. One of the most well known, of course, is the rubbing of “Howard’s Rock.” A notable Clemson alumnus brought the rock from Death Valley, Calif., and it has been affixed atop a pedestal in the East end zone for nearly 50 years. One legend has it that Memorial Stadium set the record for the loudest college football stadium at 133 decibels in 2007. Current Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney certainly likes the comforts of home. He is 25-4 at Memorial Stadium during his four years as Clemson's head coach.
2012 Attendance: 87,014 (11th)
If things progress the way Texas A&M faithful believe, Kyle Field is poised to become arguably the best football stadium in the SEC. Once the $450 million renovation is completed prior to the 2015 season, the Aggies' home stadium will be the largest in the SEC (102,500). That said, the home of the 12th Man is no joke today as it stands. Three towering decks of screaming fans urge their team on through choreographed cheering and rich traditions. And fall Saturdays actually begin the night before with Midnight Yell Practice in which thousands of Aggies fill the seats at Kyle to warm up their windpipes for the following day of action. The surrounding campus offers little in the way of sightseeing, and the win-loss home record from 2000-12 leaves much to be desired (56-30). Once enclosed and with Kevin Sumlin still patrolling the sidelines, that number is sure to improve. Despite having hosted only half-a-dozen SEC games, Kyle Field is currently the oldest venue in the conference and averaged one of the highest attendance percentiles in the nation (105.3% capacity) a year ago.
2012 Attendance: 89,965 (8th)
Named for former head coach General Robert Reese Neyland, the biggest venue in the SEC has, at one time or another, been the biggest college football stadium in the nation. Recent renovations have transformed the once dilapidated exterior into a brick Big Orange cathedral. Towering over the winding Tennessee River and attendant Vol Navy, Neyland’s double-deck, totally enclosed seating makes it one of the loudest places to watch a game in the nation. A recent run of horrendous win-loss records have impacted attendance in a big way, as thousands of empty upper deck seats have taken away from the once daunting home-field advantage. But the Pride of the Southland Marching band still forms the famed Power-T before every game, and, when this program is surging, few places in the nation can match the pageantry and passion of Neyland Stadium.
2012 Attendance: 92,703 (6th)
It may not be the SEC’s biggest or loudest stadium, but it is the most beautiful. Named for late former university president Dr. Stedman Vincent Sanford, the Bulldogs' home stadium is located in the heart of the plush greenery of the gorgeous Athens campus. The famed privet hedges line the field and separate the Georgia fans from the action on the field with style that matches the dolled-up student section. Sanford’s Southwest corner is also home to a canine marble mausoleum in which the first eight generations of Bulldog mascots have been laid to rest. Uga IX currently resides in a permanent on-field, air-conditioned doghouse near the cheerleaders’ platform on Saturdays. Mark Richt is 63-13 “Between the Hedges” and has his team poised for another perfect home slate in 2013.
2012 Attendance: 96,730 (5th)
From a massive city like Columbus to a sleepy college town like State College, Beaver Stadium nearly matches The Horseshoe’s every facet. Named after former Board of Trustees’ President James Beaver, Penn State’s home stadium is as intimidating as any in the nation — especially when 100,000 fans are all wearing white. Massive, boisterous crowds steeped in rich tradition and history make Nittany Lions’ home games a sight to behold. And climbing nearby Mount Nittany is a right of passage of sorts for all who attend a game at Beaver Stadium.
2012 Attendance: 105,330 (2nd)
There is little doubt that the Horseshoe is the Big Ten’s best place to watch a game. A great nickname, awesome traditions, tremendous fan support and commitment, elite level of success, High Street and the Banks of the Olentangy make Ohio Stadium a bucket list destination for fans of every team. And with a brand new video board, audio system and LED lighting, Ohio State boasts one of the top college football venues in the nation. Watching the "Dotting of the I" before a Buckeyes game is something all college fans should experience. Finishing No. 2 in average attendance doesn’t hurt either.
2012 Attendance: 92,626 (7th nationally)
Be it the vast and unique tailgating menu or Richter Scale-registering fans, few places in the nation can send chills down your spine like Tiger Stadium. As one of the loudest and most rabid atmospheres in the nation, LSU boasts one of the most daunting home-field advantages in college football — especially at night. Les Miles has three perfect home seasons and is 50-7 in Death Valley overall during his eight seasons as head coach. A $70 million renovation is underway to push Tiger Stadium’s capacity to 100,000, only furthering a hallowed reputation as one of the nation’s top venues. And, honestly, how many venues have a real live Bengal Tiger roaming the sidelines?